The Hiker’s Way: Hike Smart, Live Well, Go Green

Regardless of the season of the year, more and more Baby Boomers are trying to figure out how to navigate through the next few years. We thought veteran author and hiker John McKinney gives us some pretty interesting advice about his passion: hiking. John wrote “The Hiker’s Way: Hike Smart, Live Well, Go Green,” and we decided to share his advice with you about hiking smart through life.

When it comes to joining hiking clubs, taking hiking vacations, and even volunteering to maintain park trails, Baby Boomers lead the way. Of course we do. It’s in our generational DNA to get back to the land, eat trail mix, and search for meaning in the natural world.

John McKinney

Even Oprah hikes. The talk show queen regularly hits the trail (on one of my favorite footpaths) in the hills above Santa Barbara, California. Thanks to the passion and participation of Boomer hikers, an activity once mostly associated with Boy Scouts and Sierra Clubbers is now more widely embraced. Celebs mention hiking all the time; advertisers from Wheat Thins to Claritin use hiking motifs; half the Boomers seeking romance, it seems, list hiking as a favorite activity in their online outreach.

In fact, according to the American Hiking Society and outdoor industry statistics, hiking has long been—and still is—the most popular form of outdoor recreation for the Boomer generation.

And today, it’s more important than it’s ever been. Because these days, for many of us, times are tough, the going is rough, and the trail ahead uncertain. Who better than an experienced hiker with hiker values to lead the way across rugged terrain to safety?

What are those values? A good hiker has a keen sense of direction, the ability to travel solo or with trusted companions, and the experience to face adversity and rapidly changing conditions. We Boomers, with our experience on the trail, are the ones to show the way—the hiker’s way.

Hikers in Switzerland.

Hikers in Switzerland.

I wrote my book in the Year of the Ox. Those born this year, or during one of the 12-year cycles of animals highlighted by the Chinese Zodiac/Calendar, are said to be able to endure almost any hardship without complaint. Other ox-like qualities include fortitude, patience, hard work, common sense, calm dependability, and modesty. This is the year for people with their feet firmly planted on the ground.

And this is a year, indeed a century, when we need these qualities because we are living at a time when following in the footprints of the mammal ahead of us and plowing the same fields of endeavor is not enough. As we Boomers have learned over the years, we cannot get to a new place by following the same trail.

hikers_way_bookThis year (2010) is the Year of the Tiger. Those born in this cycle of the Chinese calendar are said to be dramatic, quick, intense, and have a love for travel. Sierra Club outings groups describe their fastest hikers as “tigers.”

We need the ox, to progress slowly with measured steps. And we need tigers, brave hearts who encourage us to pick up the pace—and those with bold spirits, curiosity and strength of character.

This is the time in our history to share with the many who hike—and the many more who do not—what it means to be a hiker. And what better way to do this than by taking a friend or family member, a child, or a co-worker on a hike?

Share with your trail companions the health and wellness benefits of hiking. Help them achieve that wonderful perspective on the natural world gained by walking through it at two or three miles an hour. Be a good listener and know that hearing somebody out in the great outdoors is one of the greatest gifts one hiker can give another.

Now is the time to step up and share the best pathways, to advocate for the environment, to offer trail-tested advice, and to inspire our companions with our words and example. It’s a time to pare down and pack light, taking with us only what we need for the journey ahead.

Now is the time to share the hiker’s way, on this great pathway we call life.

Follow John McKinney online … click here.

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